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After a Record-Breaking Sale, the Rockets Have a New Owner in Tilman Fertitta

And the market price for NBA teams just keeps rising

2016 NBCUniversal Summer Press Day - Panel Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

After 24 years of ownership, Leslie Alexander has agreed to sell the Houston Rockets to Tilman Fertitta for a record sum of $2.2 billion, Fox 26’s Mark Berman reported Tuesday. That’s, uh, $200 million more than Steve Ballmer paid for the Clippers in 2014.

Alexander, who purchased the Rockets in 1993 for $85 million, announced he was putting the team up for sale on July 17. Earlier this year, Forbes estimated the Houston franchise’s worth at $1.65 billion; that the final price tag came in almost $600 million above that will make other NBA owners a very, very happy bunch. Much like when the Clippers sold, this record-high deal sets the market for the league.

Fertitta, who, I regret to inform you, is no Beyoncé, grew up an hour away from Houston, in Galveston, Texas. (He is, thankfully, a member of the Hive). He currently lives in the city as the CEO of Landry’s Inc., and owns a spread of businesses like the Golden Nugget casinos, hotels, and restaurants like Joe’s Crab Shack, Rainforest Cafe, and Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. That’s unfortunate timing for Patrick Beverley, whose trade came two months early:

Per ESPN, Fertitta originally tried to buy the Rockets when the team was up for sale in ’93, but lost the bidding to Alexander by $4 million. If there’s ever an argument for go big or go home, it’s Fertitta, who will now pay 16 times the $81 million he offered 24 years ago.

Nevertheless, becoming the 10th Rockets owner is a “lifelong dream come true” for the Texan; luckily for him, he is taking over during a winning era. Houston hasn’t dipped below .500 since 2006, has entered the playoffs the past five seasons, and could possibly start this season with three superstars if it finds a way to add Carmelo Anthony. Switching owners is the latest of many Rockets revamps this offseason, including the addition of Chris Paul, acquired from the Clippers in June, and the massive payday for James Harden, who signed a $228 million contract extension.

This isn’t the first time Fertitta dabbled in ownership; he was an original investor in the Texans, but was forced to let go of the stake in 2008 because his casino ties broke an NFL rule against involvement with gambling companies. Twenty-three years after missing out on the Rockets, and nine after letting go of the Texans, Fertitta finally has his team, not two months before the start of the NBA season.